Sauna sorely missed

WayneCochius, Plumstead

Further on the topic of “bucket system in showers” (“Well done,” Bulletin letters, January 11), I would also like to congratulate Virgin Active on this water-saving initiative.

The question many Virgin members and I have is: can Virgin please turn the sauna back on and use the buckets of water as the water source for the sauna? If the water needs to be filtered then install a filter using the savings they have made on electricity while the sauna and steam rooms have been turned off.

This saving must amount to a substantial amount over the past few months while members are still paying the same monthly rate.

Perhaps it is time to give something back to the members as our water crisis is likely to continue for many years, or is it the intention to never re-activate these facilities?

Carla White, head of strategic communications of Virgin Active responds: We are facing a humanitarian crisis that will affect each and every one of us, and we hope that members would be understanding of the sacrifices everyone needs to make at home, work and even at our clubs in order to stave off Day Zero.

We have employed short-term measures, like turning off the sauna and steam facilities, and long-term measures, such as grey water systems, two of which are up and running.

Our sauna and steam units use 650 000 litres of water every month across the Cape. Consumption is further increased by member behaviour, with members taking showers before, during and after. There is additional water use in the cleaning required of the facilities.

The sauna and the steam rooms require water of a drinking standard, SANS 241, particularly as the steam and condensation is breathed in by users.

Grey water can therefore not be directly used to run these facilities.

The financial saving from reduced water consumption is insignificant in comparison to the investment we have made in our bid to conserve water.

These are some of our bigger numbers and exclude shower heads, plumbing, rainwater tanks and so on.

Transporting non-potable water to keep our pools open costs approximately R500 000 a month; portable toilets in the event of Day Zero when there is no water to our clubs will cost us R1.5 million a month; boreholes (if we are granted licences) R2 million; 10 x grey-water plants R6 million.

We have not passed on any of these costs to our members.

A crisis of this nature has a very real economic implication, and we are doing our utmost to ensure we play a part in reducing municipal water consumption while still offering our members the experience they expect.